Vegetarian and vegan diets are more popular than ever before in the UK, so there’s never been a better time to invest in the plant-based food sector. Here’s why you should consider launching a veggie restaurant, and how you can get started.
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to look at the statistics surrounding vegetarianism and veganism in the UK.
Vegetarianism and veganism - the facts
*Source: The Vegan Society
Brits consume more vegan milk, butter, cheese, ready meals and seafood than any other European country. By 2025, experts predict vegetarians and vegans will make up a quarter of the UK population, while almost one in two people will be ‘flexitarians’, eating meat only occasionally.
Between 2014 and 2019, the number of British vegans quadrupled to reach 600,000, or 1.16 percent of the population. Although the exact proportion of vegetarians and vegans is contested, there’s no doubt the plant-based diet is rising in popularity. In 2014, just 3,300 people signed up for the Veganuary campaign; this year, over 400,000 chose to take part.
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The health benefits of eating more plant-based foods are just one of the motivations for vegetarians and vegans. Research has shown switching to a meat-free diet can reduce your risk of type two diabetes by 23 percent, and heart disease by 32 percent. It can also limit the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, a dangerous BMI and cancer.
For many people, the negative environmental effect is a key reason to ‘go veggie’ or vegan. According to a 2018 Oxford University study, cutting out meat and dairy is “the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the earth”.
The food industry is changing - and fast. In the past few years, we’ve seen the introduction of a vegan McDonald’s Happy Meal, vegan KFC nuggets and dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s and HäagenDazs ice cream. 2020 is the year every top UK supermarket sold their own vegan food range, and every leading restaurant and food-to-go chain had a plant-based offering.
Reasons to start a vegan or veggie restaurant franchise business
- The market’s set to expand - You only need to glance at the statistics above to see just how much growth potential the plant-based restaurant sector holds. Investing now should help you generate healthy profits for years to come.
- It’s easy marketing - There are so many reasons to eat vegetarian or vegan foods; it’s good for your health, your bank account and the environment. So, you won’t need to work hard to convince potential customers to drop by.
- You can get inventive - As more and more people take up plant-based diets, veggie restaurants have the chance to develop new dishes. Why not get creative and use a show-stopping menu addition to draw in the crowds?
- You can use social media to get ahead - Healthy food businesses are at an advantage because their products often look fantastic in photographs. Use appealing colour combinations and interesting ingredients to advertise your veggie restaurant online. Instagram in particular is all about aesthetics, so use visual marketing to attract new customers.
Vegan and vegetarian restaurant franchise options
While there are a considerable number of independent vegan and veggie restaurants, there are relatively few franchises exclusively offering plant-based dishes. However, many put a particular focus on meat-free foods and cater to those following vegetarian diets.
Hummus is a consumer favourite among meat-eaters and veggies alike. HUMPIT Hummus takes advantage of our love of the blended chickpea dish, serving a selection of pitas, falafel, salads, pickles, sauces, juices and – of course – hummus!
- Becoming a HUMPIT Hummus franchisee: This business is on the hunt for regional franchisees all across the UK to bring the brand to their local areas. It offers the chance to operate from small sites with low fit-out and running costs.
- How much you need to invest: If you’re interested in opening a HUMPIT Hummus franchise, an initial investment of £30,000 is required, but the total capital necessary to grow the business will be around £70,000.
- What you get for your investment: When you join HUMPIT Hummus as a franchisee, you can opt to launch a sit-down café or a takeaway site, depending on your chosen location. Whichever model you go for, the franchise team will provide a comprehensive training programme and ongoing support. This will give you everything you need to run your business successfully, from help with site selection to fit-out, product lines and marketing.
This European franchise was the first vegan burger fast food business to be launched in Italy. Since 2015, it’s been selling gloriously colourful burger buns using turmeric, beetroot and vegetable charcoal to create natural yellow, purple and black colourings – among others.
- Becoming a Flower Burger franchisee: Although there are currently 10 restaurants in Italy and one in the Netherlands, Flower Burger has rolled out its franchise programme to set up sites across Europe.
- How much you need to invest: Flower Burger hasn’t revealed information about how much it might cost to launch your own business, but you can get in contact with the brand to find out.
- What you get for your investment: Franchisees benefit from plenty of support when they join Flower Burger. The franchise team helps with site layout, furniture production, finding suppliers, staff training, cash management and marketing.
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Riverford isn’t a restaurant, but it does put vegetables first, selling organic veg boxes to customers across the UK. Riverford has grown rapidly since it was established in 1987. Tasked with finding a more sustainable way to get fresh veg to consumers’ tables, founder Guy Watson developed one of the most comprehensive home delivery services in the industry.
- Becoming a Riverford franchisee: The franchise is looking for individuals who like the idea of providing customers with fresh, ethically sourced food. It is currently looking for franchisees to join the existing network of 58 franchisees and take advantage of the business’s high-quality business support.
- How much you need to invest: You’ll need to invest at least £40,000 in your Riverford franchise unit, as well as further working capital to keep it afloat in the early stages. Riverford's most successful franchisees generate annual revenues of over £1 million, so new investors can rest assured there’s plenty of scope for business growth.
- What you get for your investment: Franchisees take part in a one-week induction at the Riverford farm. You’ll get to grips with all aspects of managing and running your business, and continue to receive support from the experienced and talented franchisor team.
Invest in the vegetarian and vegan market
The value of the vegetarian and vegan market is set to skyrocket in the coming years, so joining the sector now is likely to pay off. To continue your research, you can find out more about other vegan franchises or browse our entire list of restaurant and cafe franchise opportunities.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©